Alto and soprano saxophonist Kazuki Yamanaka has brought together an impressive array of talent to join him in producing Songs Unconscious-minded. The album's title is a reference to how the seven original tunes bubbled up from Yamanaka's unconscious and presented themselves.
The supporting personnel is grouped differently on the various tracks: pianist Fabian Almazan, bassist Linda May Han Oh and drummer E.J. Strickland are together on tracks 1 ("Let Go") and 8 ("HAMABE-NO-UTA -Song Of Seashore"); track 3 ("TA-KE-YA-BU") finds Oh together with pianist Dana Malseptic and drummer Aaron Seeber; track 4 ("Do I Have A Blues") groups Malseptic with bassist Dean Torrey and Seeber; track 6 ("Lexington At 50th Street") has Almazan, Torrey and Strickland while track 7 ("Vertigo") has Malseptic (on Fender Rhodes), Torrey and Seeber; tracks 2 ("Portrait Of Midnight") and 5 ("Prayer (Remembering March 11th)") are duets (the latter on soprano sax) with Malseptic. Guitarists Gilad Hekselman (tracks 1, 3 and 8) and Daisuke Abe (track 4) also lend a hand.
Yamanaka, on either instrument, uses very little vibrato with a slightly thin and acidic timbre, which produces music and lines that feel a bit distant and reserved. These sonics fit very well with his compositional style which is firmly in the post-bop modern abstract mainstream.
This is not to say that emotion is missing in all of the abstraction. The duets are both very poignant and heartfelt, and it here that we get know Yamanaka, the person. As noted elsewhere, the last track "HAMABE-NO-UTA" (composed by Tamezo Narita, and arranged by Yamanaka) sums everything up. This tune's mood, a simple folk-like melody which hovers between melancholy and optimism is introduced by Yamanaka on soprano, accompanied by guitar and bass. When drums and piano enter the energy level rises, as does the optimism and the emotional connection.
Yamanaka is clearly a very serious and intense player, who is beginning the journey of personal introspection through his music. Just as obviously is his talent as noted by the company he keeps. Songs Unconscious-minded is but the beginning of his career.
Let Go; Portrait Of Midnight; TA-KE-YA-BU; Do I Have A Blues?; Prayer
(Remembering March 11th); Lexington At 50th Street; Vertigo; HAMABE-
NO-UTA - Song Of Seashore.
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